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Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives)

by

Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Franz Kafka was the poet of his own disorder. Throughout his life he struggled with a pervasive sense of shame and guilt that left traces in his daily existence—in his many letters, in his extensive diaries, and especially in his fiction. This stimulating book investigates some of the sources of Kafka’s personal anguish and its complex reflections in his imaginary world.

In his query, Saul Friedländer probes major aspects of Kafka’s life (family, Judaism, love and sex, writing, illness, and despair) that until now have been skewed by posthumous censorship. Contrary to Kafka’s dying request that all his papers be burned, Max Brod, Kafka’s closest friend and literary executor, edited and published the author’s novels and other works soon after his death in 1924. Friedländer shows that, when reinserted in Kafka’s letters and diaries, deleted segments lift the mask of “sainthood” frequently attached to the writer and thus restore previously hidden aspects of his individuality.

Review:

"Pulitzer Prize winner Friedlander (for The Years of Extermination) elucidates the enigmas and psychological drama of Kafka's life that undergird the complexities of his fiction. He expounds upon Kafka's emotionally fraught and ambivalent relationships to his friends, family, lovers, Judaism, and own body. Despite the careful presentation of minutiae the conclusions Friedlander draws feel reductive and speculative. For instance, Friedlander unequivocally and repeatedly avers Kafka's homosexuality despite admitting that Kafka only romantically pursued woman, and never confessed such desires, even in his diaries. Friedlander's attempt to undermine Max Brod's portrayal of Kafka as a saint provides illuminating material. However, his portrait of Kafka, as an abject melancholic feels equally caricatured; his analysis is more even handed than his deductions. Friedlander highlights the shame and guilt that undeniably plagued Kafka, but also includes biographical details that contradict this claim, such as his youthful carousing with friends, flirting with women, and frequenting nightclubs. Kafka's biography is as complicated and nuanced, dare one say 'Kafkaesque' as his literature, and this biography falls disappointingly short in its treatment of these intricacies. Despite such shortcomings, Friedlander's Kafka monograph has worthy moments of provocative insight through a careful mining of the recent release of new material. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

A highly original and engaging appraisal of Kafkas life, work, legacy, and thought

Synopsis:

In this highly original book, Saul Friedländer appraises Kafka’s life and work, tracing his personal anguish as reflected in his writings and showing how earlier censorship efforts concealed crucial aspects of Kafka’s individuality.

About the Author

Saul Friedländer is a renowned historian of the Holocaust and in 2008 won the Pulitzer Prize for the second volume of his influential work The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945. He is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History and Club 39 Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies at UCLA. Friedländer was born in Prague and spent his boyhood in Nazi-occupied France. He now lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300136616
Author:
Friedleander, Saul
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Author:
nder, Saul
Author:
Friedlander, Saul
Author:
Friedl
Author:
auml
Author:
&
Author:
Saul Friedl
Author:
nder
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series:
Jewish Lives
Publication Date:
20130431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 b/w illus.
Pages:
200
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.75 in

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Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives) New Hardcover
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Product details 200 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300136616 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Pulitzer Prize winner Friedlander (for The Years of Extermination) elucidates the enigmas and psychological drama of Kafka's life that undergird the complexities of his fiction. He expounds upon Kafka's emotionally fraught and ambivalent relationships to his friends, family, lovers, Judaism, and own body. Despite the careful presentation of minutiae the conclusions Friedlander draws feel reductive and speculative. For instance, Friedlander unequivocally and repeatedly avers Kafka's homosexuality despite admitting that Kafka only romantically pursued woman, and never confessed such desires, even in his diaries. Friedlander's attempt to undermine Max Brod's portrayal of Kafka as a saint provides illuminating material. However, his portrait of Kafka, as an abject melancholic feels equally caricatured; his analysis is more even handed than his deductions. Friedlander highlights the shame and guilt that undeniably plagued Kafka, but also includes biographical details that contradict this claim, such as his youthful carousing with friends, flirting with women, and frequenting nightclubs. Kafka's biography is as complicated and nuanced, dare one say 'Kafkaesque' as his literature, and this biography falls disappointingly short in its treatment of these intricacies. Despite such shortcomings, Friedlander's Kafka monograph has worthy moments of provocative insight through a careful mining of the recent release of new material. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,

A highly original and engaging appraisal of Kafkas life, work, legacy, and thought

"Synopsis" by ,

In this highly original book, Saul Friedländer appraises Kafka’s life and work, tracing his personal anguish as reflected in his writings and showing how earlier censorship efforts concealed crucial aspects of Kafka’s individuality.

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